Governor Lele Prevents Further Street Riots in Bamenda

NW Governor flanked by Fru Ndi (R) and the SG of the NW (L)  descend from the Judicial Police to address crowd

NW Governor flanked by Fru Ndi (R) and the SG of the NW (L) descend from the Judicial Police to address crowd

I took the dexterity, humility and maturity of Northwest Governor, Adolphe Lele Lafrique to avoid another day of street protests and running battles in Bamenda when he ordered the release from police detention of one Che Benjamin, dissipating a mounting tension around the premises of the  Judicial police where an ever increasing crowd was gathering calling for his release. He had been arrested on suspicion of being one of the ring leaders of the November 21 streets protests in Bamenda.

Following the sequence of events today, the police reportedly went to the Bamenda Main Market late in the morning, dress in civilian wear and arrested Che Benjamin. He was handcuffed to a police pickup truck that speeds off from the Main gate towards the direction of the Judicial Police, Old Town. The police vehicle was immediately followed by some commercial bike riders who where later on blocked at the main entrance into the street leading up to the DO and Judicial police offices. Here the police use tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The bike riders decided to split up, some reportedly when to the SDF chairman’s residence where he wasn’t found at home, others when to Nkwen and within a twinkle of an eye, they had mobilized  other bikers and blocked the main street around the entrance to the DO’s office.

According to some eyewitnesses, it was at this stage of events that the governor came across the protesters on his way to Ayaba Hotel for a meeting. He inquired and was briefed by the angry crowd. He later on accompanied by Ni John Fru Ndi went to the Judicial police where they spend some time  before coming to address the irate crowd.

It took some lengthy persuasion to calm the chanting crowd that continued to sing “we no go gree oh, we no go gree”

The governor and the chairman succeeded to mount on a makeshift podium behind one of the police pickup truck to address the crowd. Ni John Fru Ndi met stiff resistance from the crowd that wanted nothing more but the release of Che Benjamin. The governor called on the population to take a commitment to bring back long lasting peace in Bamenda , work towards a lasting solution to the problems raised recently. He promised that the government would look into their concerns diligently but hope that the population would play its part towards that.  He then proceeded to arrange the release of the suspect.

Heavily armed police mount the entrance to the Judicial Police Bamenda

Heavily armed police mount the entrance to the Judicial Police Bamenda

More armed police and gendarmes at the exit

More armed police and gendarmes at the exit

His release from police detention was greeted with wild scenes of jubilation and songs of victory as the crowd carried him shoulder high across Old Town to Commercial Avenue.

While this was going on, the police stationed at the Sonac street used tear gas and water canon to disperse the population of Sonac Street to prevent more people joining the crowd build up at Old Town. Some group of youths stood on standby at the Veterinary Junction ready to mount road blocks if negotiations failed at the Judicial Police. But after the peaceful resolution of the crisis, life quickly return to normal across town but for the irritating smell of tear gas along the entire Sonac Street. Governor Lele Lafrique also used the protest to address and obtained a commitment from the youths that they would strive to preserve peace in Bamenda.

By Abongwa Fozo